The witch re­port: Tilda’s new role in­spired by fate of Scot­tish ‘sor­cer­esses’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment - By Toby McDon­ald

IN her lat­est role she plays a dance teacher in league with the witches who prey on her in­no­cent bal­leri­nas.

Now Tilda Swin­ton has re­vealed how her per­for­mance in the gothic hor­ror movie Sus­piria was in­spired by Scot­land’s his­toric tales of witch­craft.

The Os­car-win­ning ac­tress, who lives in Nairn with her twin chil­dren Xavier and Honor by artist John Byrne, said she was com­pelled to make the film.

She said: ‘I live not far from the vil­lage in the High­lands where the last witch in Scot­land was burned, less than 300 years ago.

‘Closer still, a mile from where I live, a woman called Iso­bel Gowdie – a gifted sto­ry­teller and charis­mat­i­cally self-pos­sessed – was burnt at the stake, hav­ing “con­fessed” to myr­iad acts of “witch­ery”.’

Janet Horne was the last per­son to be ex­e­cuted legally for witch­craft in the Bri­tish Isles in 1727. She and her daugh­ter were ar­rested in Dornoch, and im­pris­oned on the ac­cu­sa­tions of her neigh­bours.

Iso­bel Gowdie con­fessed to witch­craft at Auldearn near Nairn dur­ing 1662.

An il­lit­er­ate farm labourer’s wife, she was tor­tured for six weeks and then burnt af­ter con­fess­ing she had been a mem­ber of a coven in the ser­vice of the Devil, with whom she was al­leged to have had car­nal deal­ings.

OCCULT OF­FER­ING: Tilda Swin­ton and her be­witch­ing bal­leri­nas, left, in the new hor­ror movie Sus­piria

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